BUCKLE UP!: Self-driving cars coming to the Northland

New self driving van coming to Grand Rapids.
New self driving van coming to Grand Rapids.(Reporter: Mitchell Zimmermann)
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 9:22 PM CDT
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GRAND RAPIDS, MN. (KBJR) - Self-driving vehicles are making their way to the Northland thanks to a new partnership.

The goMARTI Project and the Minnesota Department of Transportation will bring an autonomous van to Grand Rapids.

“All the sensors on the vehicle are just like what will be eyes on a vehicle or eyes for a person,” Tammy Meehan Russel, the project manager for goMARTI, said.

The van will have 70 stops throughout Grand Rapids.

“The vehicle itself is capable of detecting the environment and reacting to the environment,” Meehan Russell said.

The small city was chosen specifically for this project because of its size and winter weather.

“In this case we really wanted to find a project in Minnesota that focused on rural and rural communities,” she said.

Anirudh Batra was one of the engineers on the project.

“So within two months this can be out of industry and on the road,” he said.

The car itself uses sensors cameras and software to make the best decisions when driving.

“It can see trees, it can see everything around it and respond accordingly to it,” Batra said.

Meehan Russell said safety was important in building the car, but so was accessibilty. The car is accessible for most people.

“In most cases people who need transportation options the most are those who don’t have access today,” she said.

And also a lack of technology. Most of the car’s requests come from an app, but you can also make a call to get a ride.

“In this case, we actually are offering also our local call center, FirstCall 211,” she said.

The cars will be out on the roads sometime in September according to MnDOT.

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